10 Best Foam Rollers for Back Pain (2018): Buyer’s Guide and Unbiased Reviews

Are you on a quest to find the best foam rollers for back pain?

Then you’re in the right place. Because I have done the hard work for you and have reviewed dozens of models.

In addition, I will introduce the following related topics.

  • Product Details (Including advantages and disadvantages)
  • Foam Rolling Health Benefits
  • Foam Rollers for Back Pain Buyer’s Guide
  • Things You May Do Wrong When Foam Rolling (And What To Do About Them)
  • Foam Rollers Care and Maintenance

I will also answer some common questions.

  • What is a Foam Roller?
  • Why Foam Rollers Work?
  • How To Foam Roll Your Back?

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Lower back pain is a common condition with seniors and individuals that spend better parts of their day seated in front of a computer. According to research, more than 80% of all adults suffer from back pains or have experienced the same at some point in their lives. The interesting thing is that lower back pains affect even the healthiest individuals including those that go to the gym daily. Lower back pains can take a toll on your performance at work, how your walk, as well as recovery from an injury.

Luckily enough, foam rolling provides an easy and inexpensive solution for this problem. Foam rollers have proven to be a darling especially when one has aching muscles and joints. This could be part of the reason you will find a foam roller in the gym, a therapist’s office, and in many people’s living rooms as well.

The reason you too should consider investing in a foam roller is that it helps provide deep tissue massage at your own convenience. Whether back at home after a hard day at work or just feel a tingling ache on your back, you can use the foam roller to help release the pressure. A good foam roller should promote faster recovery of sore muscles, as well as provide instant relief from back pains. This, of course, depends on how well you use the roller, and your overall condition.

Foam rolling employs a different approach to providing relief from back pains as compared to other treatment methods. It involved deep muscle and tissue massage which promotes increased blood flow to the injured parts, thus facilitating faster pain relief. Foam rolling incorrectly may, however, aggravate back pains, which is why you need to have some understanding of how to use the rollers before using them.

Foam Rollers for Back Pain Comparison Table

Foam rollers are rated for:

  1. Heft/weight, length, diameter (size)
  2. Density
  3. Surface texture
  4. Supposed durability
  5. Rolling ability
  6. Ease of use
Product
Editors’ Choice & Best Seller
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos, 2.0 (26-inch), Black
Best Budget
AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller | 36-inches, Black
LuxFit Foam Roller Premium High Density Foam Roller, (6-Inch-by-12-Inch)
Image
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos, 2.0 (26-inch), Black
AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller | 36-inches, Black
LuxFit Foam Roller Premium High Density Foam Roller, (6-Inch-by-12-Inch)
Our Rating
Editors’ Choice & Best Seller
Product
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos, 2.0 (26-inch), Black
Image
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos, 2.0 (26-inch), Black
Our Rating
Best Budget
Product
AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller | 36-inches, Black
Image
AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller | 36-inches, Black
Our Rating
Product
LuxFit Foam Roller Premium High Density Foam Roller, (6-Inch-by-12-Inch)
Image
LuxFit Foam Roller Premium High Density Foam Roller, (6-Inch-by-12-Inch)
Our Rating
Product
Professional’s Choice
Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller - Black
RumbleRoller RRC126 - Half Size 12 Inches - Blue - Original - Textured Muscle Foam Roller - Relieve Sore...
36 Inch Length x 6 Inch Round - The Foam Roller - Best Firm High Density Eco-Friendly EVA Foam Rollers for...
OPTP PRO-ROLLER Soft Foam Roller - Pink 36" x 6" PSFR36
Image
Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller - Black
RumbleRoller RRC126 - Half Size 12 Inches - Blue - Original - Textured Muscle Foam Roller - Relieve Sore...
36 Inch Length x 6 Inch Round - The Foam Roller - Best Firm High Density Eco-Friendly EVA Foam Rollers for...
OPTP PRO-ROLLER Soft Foam Roller - Pink 36" x 6" PSFR36
Our Rating
Professional’s Choice
Product
Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller - Black
Image
Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller - Black
Our Rating
Product
RumbleRoller RRC126 - Half Size 12 Inches - Blue - Original - Textured Muscle Foam Roller - Relieve Sore...
Image
RumbleRoller RRC126 - Half Size 12 Inches - Blue - Original - Textured Muscle Foam Roller - Relieve Sore...
Our Rating
Product
36 Inch Length x 6 Inch Round - The Foam Roller - Best Firm High Density Eco-Friendly EVA Foam Rollers for...
Image
36 Inch Length x 6 Inch Round - The Foam Roller - Best Firm High Density Eco-Friendly EVA Foam Rollers for...
Our Rating
Product
OPTP PRO-ROLLER Soft Foam Roller - Pink 36" x 6" PSFR36
Image
OPTP PRO-ROLLER Soft Foam Roller - Pink 36" x 6" PSFR36
Our Rating

Best Foam Rollers for Bad Backs

  1. TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
  2. AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller
  3. LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller
  4. Master of Muscle
  5. ProSource Sports Medicine Foam Roller
  6. HyperIce Vyper – 3 Speed Vibrating Foam Roller
  7. Rumbleroller Deep-Tissue Massage Roller
  8. Rolling With It – Best Firm High Density Eco-Friendly EVA Foam Rollers For Physical Therapy
  9. King Athletic Foam Roller for Muscle Exercise and Myofascial Massage
  10. OPTP PRO-ROLLER Soft Density Foam Roller

1. TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos – Editors’ Choice & Best Seller

Sale
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos, 2.0 (26-inch), Black
  • Patented foam roller design offers a superior, multi-density exterior...
  • Constructed from quality materials that won't break down or lose shape...
  • Includes access to free online instructional video library on foam...
  • Trusted foam roller of physical and massage therapists, coaches,...
  • GRID 2.0: Standard density, 26 x 5.5 inches, 500 pound weight limit;...

Anyone who suffers from muscle pain can get relief using the Trigger-Point Grid Foam Roller. It’s made with a multi-dimensional design and varying surface textures. When you need deep penetration to break down knots it’s recommended you use the smaller hard knobs, and for a gentle massage, you should use the wider and softer surface model. The features of this roller include a dense design that optimizes pain relief and is made hollow and flexible to increase its overall comfort.

This model’s features are made to hold up well even when used consistently. This model has a one year warranty that covers any errors that were made with the foam roller and it includes three different sizes and two different densities. This makes it perfect for use among many different types of people and for a wide range of problems and muscle pain.

Pros
  • This model comes in a range of densities and sizes.
  • It is trusted by trainers and professional therapist.
  • It’s ideal for people that are tall and those that are big.
  • The multi-dimensional design provides pain relief similar to what one could expect from a professional masseuse.
  • An instructional video is included.
Cons
  • It’s not a perfect choice for extreme pain that requires very deep penetration of the muscle.
  • It is somewhat high in price.

2. AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller – Best Budget Foam Roller

Sale
AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller | 36-inches, Black
  • High-density blue speckled foam roller with molded edges: Extra firm -...
  • Ideal for balance, strengthening, flexibility, and rehab exercises
  • Made from molded polypropylene to maintain firmness
  • Lightweight, easy to clean and transport
  • Measures approximately 36 x 6 x 6 inches (LxWxH)

Those who own this roller really like the fact that it keeps its shape over a long period of time and comes in a choice of sizes. It’s available in 36 inch, 18 inch, and 12 inch versions. Anyone who wants to use this roller for the larger regions of their back will want to get the 36-inch version. For those who need something when traveling the 12-inch roller is a good choice. This model roller is able to remain firm even with heavy use because of the molded polypropylene.

Pros
  • This model comes in a choice of three sizes.
  • It keeps its shape even with moderately heavy use.
  • It’s able to remain firm because it’s made with molded polypropylene.
Cons
  • Occasionally a buyer says that the material will start to flake after heavy use.
  • There are no instructions with this model.

3. LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller

LuxFit Foam Roller Premium High Density Foam Roller, (6-Inch-by-12-Inch)
  • FOAM ROLLERS FOR MUSCLES - High Density Foam Roller is great for...
  • EXTRA FIRM FOAM ROLLER - Molded polypropylene foam technology has a 2...
  • 3 SIZES AVAILABLE FOR ALL YOUR NEEDS - 6x36, 6x18, 6x12. 36 Inch foam...
  • FOAM EXERCISE ROLLER HELPS PREVENT MUSCLE INJURY - Perfect for...
  • FULL 1 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY - MADE IN THE USA! - Using your own body...

This roller has a standard flat design and that makes it a perfect choice for getting a good massage and for basic pain relief. This roller is great for massage therapy, physical therapy, yoga, using before and after exercising, relieving muscle pain after Pilates, tension created from increasing muscle reflexology, and even soreness. It’s very helpful to increase a range of motion for core stabilization, increased stamina, and for all types of back pain back exercises. T

The roller is made using the latest technology in molded plastic polypropylene. The way in which it’s made means it will never lose its shape even after heavy use. There is a choice of two sizes with this model that includes a 36-inch model and an 18-inch model. This means it is suitable for people of most any size and is capable of working with any type of muscle pain relief.

There are instructions that are included with this roller and a one year warranty is included. It’s made in the USA. Most consider it to be a great value for the price which is just over $10. Despite the low price, it’s highly durable and great for relieving basic pain.

Pros
  • It’s very affordable.
  • It’s versatile and works regardless of the size of the person.
  • It comes with a decent warranty.
  • It’s waterproof and high-density.
Cons
  • Against certain clothing, it’s a bit slippery.
  • It doesn’t come with a manual.
  • It Doesn’t have enough texture to work out knots.

4. Master of Muscle

No products found.

This model has an impressive design and is a great value. It can relieve a range of muscle problems and it’s neither too soft or too hard. If you’re in need of some soft messaging then you can use the flat part of the roller. When you have more intense muscle pain then you can use the knob section which is capable of relieving deep muscle knots.

This model is very strong and will not warp regardless of how much it’s used. It’s made in the way that allows you to apply pressure without experiencing the roller moving out of position. This is one of the lowest priced models you can find on the market at this time. Its cost is a bit over $20. It’s great for whole body massage but is not ideal for very large people.

Pros
  • It Includes instructions.
  • It’s easily portable and lightweight.
  • It’s perfect for smaller people.
Cons
  • It’s too small for big bodies.
  • It only comes in one single size.
  • It has a maximum weight limit of 330 lbs

5. ProSource Sports Medicine Foam Roller

No products found.

The ProSource comes with deep ridges and higher spikes than the Trigger Point does and this makes it a good choice for getting out deeper knots and works great on large muscle groups. These muscle groups include the lats, upper back, quads, and lower back. It includes a choice of Lentz. You can choose the 26-inch length or the 13-inch.

This model comes with an impressive warranty which is a limited lifetime liability warranty. It ensures the buyer that there will be no manufacturer’s defects that will cause the roller to function improperly.

Pros
  • It is a generous size.
  • It is portable.
  • It is the perfect choice for large muscle groups.
Cons
  • It is not easy to travel with.
  • It could be a little bit firmer.
  • It is heavy.

6. HyperIce Vyper – 3 Speed Vibrating Foam Roller – Professional’s Choice

Hyperice Vyper 2.0 High-Intensity Vibrating Fitness Roller - Black
  • BEST FOAM ROLLER ON THE MARKET Professional Athletes Choose VYPER Over...
  • Authorized Sellers of the Vyper are Hyperice and Active Recovery...
  • The VYPER is a cutting edge fitness and recovery device/roller that...
  • USED DAILY BY SOME OF THE BEST ATHLETES IN THE WORLD including Blake...
  • GET THE GREATEST RECOVERY FOAM ROLLER TODAY.Three Vibration frequency...

High-performance elites and rookie athletes like can benefit from this first-rate foam roller which is well worth the increased price tag. It provides effective relief for tight, sore or stiff muscles with a top-quality dense core and firm exterior. It also includes a special feature for delivering adjustable vibrations for further relief to sore muscles. You can expect two full hours of treatment from the powerful Li-Ion batteries. This device can also be used to loosen or warm up muscles before a workout and prevent injuries.

Pros
  • Variable Vibration Settings for specific intensities
  • Powerful Lithium-Ion Battery pack
Cons
  • Can be too small for larger users
  • The lowest vibration has been too much for some users.
  • Not a budget-friendly option.

7. Rumbleroller Deep-Tissue Massage Roller

RumbleRoller RRC126 - Half Size 12 Inches - Blue - Original - Textured Muscle Foam Roller - Relieve Sore...
  • Portable! Fits easily in your gym bag, backpack, or carry-on luggage.
  • Original Density surface intended for people new to foam rolling or...
  • Provides firm BUT FLEXIBLE surface to relieve muscular pain and...
  • Stretches muscle and other soft tissues in multiple directions,...
  • Higher strength and tear resistance, wonderful feel, permanent...

The Rumble Roller is carefully crafted to reach deep into muscle tissue to loosen and sooth. This is accomplished with a specially knobbed surface that can manipulate the tissues for a deeper penetration for addressing knotted muscles. these bumps were designed to work like the fingers of a trained massage therapist. The bumps redirect the muscle tissues in all directions to smooth out the muscle fibers and provide deep relief. The bumps are not hard either so they won’t feel rough on bony areas of the back or anywhere else if you hit a bone.

Another advantage is that the Rumble Roller is Extra-Large so the bigger users will have no problem getting full and effective relief. There are a few compact sizes as well and the rumble rollers are color coded for specific designs. The blue roller is a good choice for intermediate users and feature the original density. The black rollers are good for advanced users and have a much harder surface. Since the quality and materials of the rumble roller are dense and durable, the Rumble Roller can be used for many months without the structural integrity becoming compromised.

The Rumble Roller is also a slightly more expensive option than many of the others on the list. But for those suffering from deeper muscle pains and knotted fibers, this model can provide relief that will otherwise be found in pain meds or sessions with a qualified massage therapist.

Pros
  • Knobby bumps provide massage therapy
  • Deep muscle penetration
  • Available in larger or compact sizes
  • Great for all parts of the body
  • Dense and durable
  • Good for deeper intense pains
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Only for advanced users

8. Rolling With It – Best Firm High Density Eco-Friendly EVA Foam Rollers For Physical Therapy

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36 Inch Length x 6 Inch Round - The Foam Roller - Best Firm High Density Eco-Friendly EVA Foam Rollers for...
  • THIS LISTING IS FOR OUR 36 INCH X 6 INCH FOAM ROLLER: Our most popular...
  • SAVE WITH PROFESSIONAL GRADE RELIEF: Fire your masseuse today. Get...
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  • SAY GOODBYE TO MUSCLE PAIN TODAY: Do not let sore tight muscles...
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The softer surface of this professional level appliance gives the Roll With It Foam Roller increased durability. Made of high-Quality EVA Foam, the Roll With IT will keep its shape and functionality even when used by the heaviest of users. The EVA foam is also 100% recyclable and has a softer exterior and denser interior so that all users can get what they need.

In addition to the sturdy design and dense materials, the Roll With IT has the capacity to address deeper muscle tensions that can be difficult to smooth out without deep penetration. The design is also flat and long, 36 inches to be exact, making this the best option for larger heavier users.

This is a great option for beginners to gain experience and relief, there are very few negative aspects to this first-rate option.

Pros
  • Features a soft exterior with a firm core
  • Durable EVA foam material is environmentally friendly
  • Has a high-value for the price
  • Features various size options
Cons
  • A strong odor has been noticed
  • The blue covering begins to rub off on prolonged contact.

9. King Athletic Foam Roller for Muscle Exercise and Myofascial Massage

No products found.

Now we can begin looking into some of the finer features of one of the best foam rollers for addressing lumbar and lower back pain. There are plenty of positive attributes about a foam roller of this density and prodigious length.

The first-rate product from King Athletic is also one of the toughest options in its class and will withstand heavy-duty pressure without flinching its functionality. If you are one of the 200+ pound athletes, this is a must have item. The life-time warranty it features is another good reason to obtain such a value item.

Another good feature of the King Athletic Foam roller is the knobby surface which provides a great massage. While it can be a little uncomfortable at first, the knobs feel very soft after a while as the textured surface softens up. The firmness and durability will endure however, and this roller will give you a better user experience than most others, especially if you are a new user.

Another good point to mention is the King Athletic exercise booklet which details the proper use of the foam roller. This will provide an expert’s guide to using this foam roller for the best experience, if you are new to foam rolling this type of guidance is essential.

Pros
  • Textured surface for added comfort
  • Specialized carrying case
  • High density foam provides a high durability
  • Advantageous Lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Only 1 size — Extra Large
  • It is difficult to pull out the Inner roller

10. OPTP PRO-ROLLER Soft Density Foam Roller

OPTP PRO-ROLLER Soft Foam Roller - Pink 36" x 6" PSFR36
  • Professional quality foam roller with a softer, comfortable...
  • Made of cross-linked, closed-cell, long lasting EVA foam
  • Roll out trigger points, knots and areas of increased muscle density
  • Soft for comfort during self-massage, durable for exercise
  • 36" L x 6" diameter; Pink Marble

This Roller has been especially engineered with closed cell construction, which provides excellent performance and strong durability. The OPTP PRO-Roller is a professional grade item and can be expected to endure many years and pounds. The design is much softer, and those athletes in need of deeper tissues massage have found this option somewhat inadequate. Actually, this is a perfect option for those looking for the softer touch of a lighter roller. Those with sensitive skin will also benefit from a roller with a softer surface texture.

This roller can be cleaned and regularly maintained with a small amount of dish detergent and a disinfectant. The foam design is great for loosening up tight muscles or easing the tension of a tough workout. You can also lie on it for a bit of extra comfort.

The OPTP PRO-Roller is available in a 36 -inch and 18-inch presentation that are both 6 inches in diameter. The smaller is a perfect travel sized option that can still be used to loosen up the muscles in preparation for a workout. You can choose a PRO-Roller in two colors bright blue or bright pink.

One possible downside to this otherwise top-notch option would be the limited warranty that cover its performance. Clients only get a 30-day guarantee, which does nothing to inspire confidence in its longevity.

But, for those looking for a simplistic foam roller with a soft touch and smooth texture, the OPTP PRO-Roller is a good option.

Pros
  • Easy to maintain and clean
  • Good option for those who like a soft touch
  • Closed cell technology foam construction
  • User support available online in the form of video instructionals.
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Not dense enough for Deep Tissue
  • Strong Chemical Odor

What is a Foam Roller? Why Foam Rollers Work?

Foam rolling is a type of SMR (Self-Myofascial Release) commonly used to help relieve acute pain on muscles and back injuries. This method has gained lots of popularity over the recent past as more and more people buy roller foams for ‘self-massage,’ as it can help reduce tension and pains in different parts of the body.

Foam rolling should be used for these reasons:

1. To influence an autonomic nervous system: Foam rollers work on your body’s reflexive mechanisms through the hypothalamus. The deep muscle and tissue action increases blood flow into injured tissues and joints, reduces blood pressure, muscle tension, and reduces heart rate as well. The increased blood flow in the affected areas is what speeds up the recovery process.

2. Alleviate latent and active trigger point side effects: Muscles often develop knots and tightness over time. Simple body exercises alone aren’t enough to keep muscles flexible or prevent stiffness in some parts of the body. Foam rolling provides a perfect way to reach these tight muscles and trigger points thus improving flexibility. In addition to this, foam rolling helps prevent increased muscle tension which could lead to a chronic tear, hence painful joints in the future.

A foam roller works by stretching muscles and tendons thus removing tension on these tissues. Foam rolling, therefore, treats Myofascial Release through a simple body massage. This treatment method is very effective in treating back, neck, jaw, and menstrual pains among others. Most people however roll over the foam too fast, hence do not tap into the full potential of foam rollers. Rolling too fast only changes the pain sensation and doesn’t induce myofascial release.

Foam Rolling Health Benefits

  1. Increases blood flow and circulation by massaging and breaking down muscle knots and adhesions.
  2. Prevents muscle injuries and tear
  3. Facilitates improved muscle flexibility and strength
  4. Relieves muscle cramps
  5. Releases trigger points and muscle tightness
  6. Reduces stress

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Right Foam Roller for back pain

Several factors need/have to be considered before settling for a particular foam roller. You therefore shouldn’t just buy the first foam roller you come across in a store. Some of the important factors to consider when shopping for a foam roller include:

1. Your Prevailing Condition and Specific Symptoms

It’s important that you consider your current condition, and what triggered these pains before jumping into foam rolling. If the back pains are as a result of lifting a heavy object, sleeping on a hard surface, or a sprain, you should consider other remedies first before trying foam rolling. Most acute pains fade off after some time, hence no need for a foam roller.

Chronic pains due to muscle tightness, inactivity, sciatica, or age can however be treated using a foam roller. You can also invest in a foam roller if looking to use it for extended periods of time to release muscle tension and soreness, especially after a workout. Be sure to go for a foam roller specially designed for your case. The key factor to consider here is foam intensity.

2. Foam Roller Type

Foam rollers are available in two distinct types, the EVA foam roller variant, and the EVE high-density foam roller. EVA foam rollers are generally soft and smooth and don’t last for long. This option is mainly white in color and often flattens out within a year or two. EVE high-density rollers, on the other hand, have small pellets and are generally black. These pellets are designed to work on muscle cramps and knots efficiently.

3. Foam Density

Foam density is a vital factor to consider when shopping for a foam roller. While foam rollers are designed for muscle/tissue massage, a higher density foam is generally hard and can cause trauma and bruising especially on severely injured or inflamed areas. Low-density foam rollers may, however, be too soft to induce any deep tissue massage. As indicated earlier, it all depends on your condition and how you intend to use it.

If shopping for your first foam roller, consider the much softer one. You can upgrade to a firmer one as your muscles adapt and technique improves. You can alternatively go for a denser roller if in need of a more durable one that can be used for the long term. A soft roller will definitely deform after some time while a firmer one will last much longer.

The foam color gives a hint of what density the foam roller is. White is generally used for soft and low-density rollers, red and blue for medium density, and black for the highest density available. While this may vary between brands, squeezing the rollers can help ascertain various densities. The black foam roller is however recommended for experts and individuals who have been doing it for quite some time.

4. Surface Texture

Foam rollers come in different textures based on the targeted use. For instance, some rollers may be smooth while others have knobs and ridges meant to apply pressure at varying intensities.

Smooth rollers: Smooth rollers have a flat surface, hence provide uniform pressure all through. These rollers are specially designed for freshers’ as well as seniors. The pressure isn’t too intense to cause any aggravation, though enough to provide relief from back pains. Smooth foam rollers are also readily available and affordable.

Textured foam rollers: These have knob and ridges on the surface that mimics the hands. Textured foam rollers are considerably much better for they provide precise massage on the targeted area or muscles. In addition to this, you can adjust the pressure on certain areas to ensure an optimal massage experience.

5. Size and Shape

Foam rollers come in a wide range of shapes and sizes.

length: Longer rollers are specially designed for back massage as they span perpendicular to your spine. The main advantage of investing in a long foam roller is that it offers stability, especially when working on hamstrings, quads, and even the side.

Diameter: Most rollers in the market today come in 5- 6-inch diameters. This offers comfortable heights to ease your body and roll under control. 3-4 inch diameter rollers, however, provide more targeted massage for they have a sharper edge.

Shape: Foam roles come in round and half-circle shapes. If looking for a stationary roller, then the half-circle roller will come in handy. Round rollers, however, roll with your body and recommended for specific and targeted massage.

6. Durability

If looking for a foam roller you will be using for the next five years; then the EVA foam is the best option. If you however need something for occasional use, then the EVE foam roller will come in handy.

7. Alignment

Some rollers are specially designed for specific muscle groups, and others for calf muscles and the spine. Whatever your choice is, go for the foam roller designed for your specific needs. Determining the right foam alignment may be hard for some people, which is why you should consult with the supplier before making a purchase.

How To Foam Roll Your Back

Once you’ve bought the SMR, you may wonder how to use it. This isn’t too difficult, provided that you take your time to understand the basic principles that make it effective. The first technique is to roll back and forth, generating friction that acts by flattening your fascia. The second technique is to hold still on a tight spot, the purpose being to “melt away” knots.

If you suffer from upper back knots and pain, you should place the roller under your shoulder blades. With your arms crossed over your chest, try to raise your hips up off the floor. Your own body weight will put a pressure on the tight area of your back. Try to hold this position for about one minute. If needed, you can use a hourglass to measure the time. Next, roll your body very slowly from the lower back area to the shoulder blades. You might hear a cracking sound. If there’s no pain, you don’t have anything to worry about. On the contrary, if you feel pain, stop immediately. If you suffer from various back problems, you should discuss with your doctor or with a therapist the intention of using a foam roller.

You should avoid foam rolling your lower back. First of all, lower back is usually the consequence of a mechanical deformation. The average foam roller is about 5″ in diameter, and it’s very difficult to control its position on your lower back while rolling. Second, if your lower back is a consequence of spondyloarthritis or other similar medical conditions, foam rolling the area might make your pain even worse. Third, you should never foam roll an area of your body where there are internal organs not protected by bones. In the lower back, you have the kidneys and the liver. These organs are only protected by muscles, not by bones, so you may damage them if you compress them by rolling over such a large item.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use foam rolling if you suffer from lower back pain. There are ways of using it to alleviate your pains, but the techniques that work aren’t that intuitive.

Hip FlexorsGlutesCalves
By foam rolling your hip flexors you can alleviate your lower back pain. As these muscles connect to the lumbar spine, they can be the culprit for back pain, especially when you have to sit for extended periods of time.

Rolling your glute muscles, the gluteus maximus especially, can contribute to reducing your lower back pain as a result of strengthening the core muscles.

Last but not least, foam rolling your calves can be a very effective exercise for alleviating low back pain caused by a tightness of your triceps surae.

Source: How to Stretch Your Back Using a Foam Roller

The 5 Things You May Do Wrong When Foam Rolling (And What To Do About Them)

Error 1: You roll directly over the painful area.

It’s natural to feel the need to massage directly the painful spot. Nonetheless, this might be a very big mistake, as it may induce even more inflammation and tension in the already painful area. Your muscles and your fascia are going to be stressed even more, making your situation worse. As tension in one area is usually the result of an imbalance in another part of your body, you should always roll a few inches around the painful spot.

What to do to avoid this situation?

Instead of rolling your painful area directly over the foam roller, try to apply the pressure a bit farther away from the painful spot to the connecting muscles. Once you manage to find these attachment areas, work them gently but firmly. Next, return slowly to the painful area, but make sure you don’t apply too much pressure. This is how you can avoid exacerbating the inflammation, while also targeting the very origin of your problem.

Error 2: You Roll Too Fast

In the beginning, you may have a very good feeling when rolling quickly over the painful areas. This method helps you feel better, but it doesn’t eliminate your adhesions. By going very slowly with your rolls, you give your muscles a better chance to accommodate the change and to start relaxing.

What to do to avoid this situation?

Go at a slower pace, in order to give time to the superficial layers and to your muscles to adapt to the compression. Watch your body, in order to determine the tender spots, and then pass over them again and again in slow rolls.

Error 3: Insisting too much on the same area

you may have heard that when you encounter a knot, you need to insist on working it with the foam roller. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean you should spend a whole 10 minutes rolling back and forth over the same spot and try to compress it as much as you can. Applying such intense and sustained pressure on one body part may lead to tissue or nerve damage. In addition, you may end up with some beautiful bruises.

What to do to avoid this situation?

You should always start by applying only about half of your body weight on painful areas. Use your hands and your legs to adjust the pressure, and gradually work into full body weight. You shouldn’t spend more than 20 seconds on the same area, as you risk to irritate it rather than soothing it. If you have an extremely painful area, you should rather address it in several sessions, in order to allow your muscles the time needed to relax.

Error 4: Your posture is wrong

Foam rolling isn’t easy. You’ll get tired, and you’ll surely sweat. The IT band position puts a lot of your body weight one only one arm. When you roll your quads, you’re adopting the plank position. If you do these exercises when you’re already tired, you risk to hurt your arms. In addition, your pelvis may drop, as you become too tired to maintain the proper posture. The result can be an exacerbation of your injuries, so you can easily do more harm than good.

What to do to avoid this situation?

You should try foam rolling only with an experienced personal trainer or therapist, in order to learn the proper techniques and the good posture right off the bat. Alternatively, you can record yourself while rolling, and study the video afterwards. This way you can see how you roll, where you contort your spine and where you take a bad posture.

Error 5: You use the foam roller to massage your lower back

Controlling the position of your lower back while rolling is almost impossible. There are very few people able to avoid contraction all their low back muscles, as this is something that comes by instinct. Your muscles contract to protect your spine, but the result is going to be even more pain.

What to do to avoid this situation?

There’s nothing wrong with using the foam roller on the upper back, because everything inside this part of your body is protected by bones. If you need to alleviate your lower back pain, try to massage the muscles that connect to your lower back such as the hip flexors, the piriformis, and the rectus femoris. This is going to contribute to releasing the tension in your painful area, making you feel better without having to foam roll directly the painful spot.

The most important thing is to understand where your pain comes from before starting to work. You should also be consistent, as the results will only show if you stick to it long enough to make a difference.

Care and Maintenance

You should always store your large foam roller un upright position, away from direct sunlight. While rolling, avoid wearing garments with zippers or buttons, as they may affect the rolling surface. When you’re done with your session, rub the roller carefully with a damp cloth or with antibacterial wipes. You can also wash it with soapy water and rinse it thoroughly afterwards. Avoid soaking it, because it can absorb water, being therefore very difficult to dry.

Conclusion

You can choose any of the above mentioned foam rollers. They are all designed to offer myofascial relief and to ease muscle tension. You can use foam rolling to get rid of your stiffness, numbness or upper back pains. If you have back pain or a stiff neck, a foam roller can be a life-saver. Try this out for about three times a week for a couple of months, and you’re going to be impressed with the results.

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References

 

I am Lucas. I was once a back pain sufferer, but that is all in the past. I created BestforBackPain.com to help others find relief without going to physical therapy or expensive medical treatments that are often hit or miss.

Last update on 2018-12-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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